Setting up a new website can be a challenge, and many website owners make several mistakes when they first follow through the process. One case where folks go badly astray is when they’re looking around for a site to host their web pages. Many companies on the Internet offer unlimited free web hosting, but what is the real cost? We’ll discuss the top 5 reasons why free web hosting will end up costing you more money.
If no one sees your website, there’s little chance that a visitor to your URL will ever become a customer. Free web hosts do not offer any type of guarantees regarding uptime, and that means that your website could be down for a total of several days during the course of a year and no one owes you so much as an apology when it happens. Paid hosting options tend to be offered by companies that commit a certain amount of bandwidth to serving your website. Likewise, as interest in your website grows, you can pay the web hosting company for additional bandwidth allocations in order to keep things running smoothly.
2. Lack of Features
Most free hosts are not going to offer a lot of features with your website, and you can almost guarantee that very advanced features will not be available. For example, some free web hosts may allow limited access to functionality for features like PHP and MySQL, but almost all of them will have administrative limits in place that prevent you from fully leveraging them. This means that you’ll never be able to develop a fully featured user forum on your site, and you can just forget about running any type of major shopping cart software on your site.
The more advanced level of functionality that you seek, the less likely you’ll be able to find it on a free web host. If you wish to install video upload features on your site, then you’ll likely need the ability to install something like ffMPEG, and that means you’ll need to compile code with root access on the server. No free web host in the world is going to offer that level of access, but you can typically get it by paying for a virtual or dedicated server.
The range of features on offer for free hosts also tends to be limited. If you’re looking to host a web app’s backend with something like Node.js, there’s little hope of finding a free web host to handle it. Enjoy uploading static HTML pages, as that’s going to be the most likely option available to you on most free hosting plans.
3. Little Storage Space
Free web hosts don’t offer you a lot of storage space. Even when you look at storage options from companies like Google or WordPress, they typically limit free users. It can be easy to dismiss this problem early on when your site is small, but as you add images and content over time, you’ll find that you run out of room more quickly than you might have anticipated. This is especially true for people who wish to run a blog alongside their main websites.
Paid hosting options allow you to scale your available storage according to your needs. You can also employ cloud-based hosting or a content delivery network in order to further improve the available space for hosting your site. It’s important that your hosting is able to grow as the demands of your site increase.
4. Poor Response Times
Free hosting options are almost always operated on servers where resources have to be shared across thousands or even millions of websites. The servers that handle these requests can be bogged down during peak times of the day for traffic, and that means that your site’s visitors will be forced to wait. More accurately, your site will begin losing visitors quickly, as modern Internet users wait for no one. As your site hosted on a free server struggles to catch up with the increased demand, you can count the visitors leaving by the second. If the site is taking more than ten seconds to answer back, you can pretty much say goodbye to all of your visitors.
Paid hosting providers offer options that allow you to tailor the solution to the demands of your visitors. This means that you can add more processing power to address the requirements of running more complex code. You can also have the hosting provider allocate more memory to handle larger loads. Visitors with high-speed Internet access expect sites to zip along without much trouble, and that means your site needs to be hosted on a server that can make that happen.
5. Lack of Support
The easiest way to keep costs down enough in order to offer unlimited free web hosting is to offer little to no technical and customer support. When something doesn’t work, it will be up to you to figure out how to make it functional. If you’re not an especially tech savvy person, this means you’ll be left to your own devices when your site stops working.
It’s easy to see the initial appeal of a free web hosting option, but it’s also important to ask big questions before you move forward with it. In the long-term, avoiding a paid host can end up costing you money. A free site will lag, and that means web visitors will go away and visit sites that do respond to their requests. If you’re running a website for any commercial purpose, it’s wise to look at the best paid options that you can afford. With the right hosting setup, you’ll be able to serve your visitors’ needs and grow your business.